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In the dialect I grew up with (1960's Leicestershire/East Midlands), I'd say "me", when I meant "my". For example:

"That's me car."

vs

"That's my car."

What I have wondered for a long time is, am I saying "my" with a different pronunciation, "m-ee" vs "m-eye". Or am I, in the dialect, using an entirely different part of speech, pronoun vs possessive.

5000 miles and 40 years away, I'll still often say "me" instead of "my".

7
  • My father's side of the family is from Castle Donington in Leicestershire. I was often called 'me duck' and always considered it to be 'my duck' said in the local dialect. – Michael Harvey May 15 at 7:41
  • 2
    Derbyshire likewise. I'm pretty sure my is pronounced me or mi in many parts of Britain. – Kate Bunting May 15 at 7:52
  • I said it to me girl, and now me girl's me wife! - Also me Julie – Michael Harvey May 15 at 10:07
  • youtu.be/N-L-PYnW8Uc?t=25 – Hot Licks May 15 at 12:13
  • I don't think this is really a matter of people saying I'll ask me dad instead of my dad. It's just that in casual speech, many Anglophones all around the world reduce the vowel in my to the short 'i' in, say, bit. The orthography of me dad is basically just "eye-dialect" intended to imply something about the social class of the speaker (same as He sez he's me dad, but he's not). – FumbleFingers May 15 at 12:14
2

It appears to be a relic of Middle English usage:

The following answer from forum.wordreference.com appears to shed some light on the usage of “me instead of my:”

In Shakespeare's time (around 1600) and prior to that, my (and thy) would have a strong emphatic form with the vowel /aɪ/ and a weak form /ɪ/. This is similar to how we have the strong form of he /hiː/ together with the weak forms /hɪ/ or /ɪ/.

Since that time, Standard English has moved towards using the strong form /maɪ/ in all contexts, whereas many regional varieties in the UK still have the weak form /mɪ/. When writers want to indicate this pronunciation in writing, they often resort to spelling this me, whereas in reality the speakers are actually saying my.

And actually, as Wiktionary shows, mi, meaning my, was used in Middle English:

Alternative forms my, mie, me

Etymology: Apocopated form of min, myn, from Old English mīn (“my, mine”), from Proto-Germanic *mīnaz (“my, mine”, pron.) (genitive of *ek (“I”)), from Proto-Indo-European *méynos (“my; mine”).

Pronunciation
IPA(key): /ˈmiː/ (unstressed) IPA(key): /mi/

Determiner
mi (nominative I)

1- First-person singular genitive determiner: my

Usage notes:

mi is usually used before a consonant (other than h-), while min is usually used before a vowel or h-, much as with Modern English an vs a.

2

The etymology is from an unstressed version of my. But since it ended up developing the same pronunciation as the form me, it came to be spelled the same sometimes, and it's hard to say now whether it is still actually a distinct form or not. Are her and her two entirely distinct forms of the pronoun she that happen to be pronounced and spelled the same way, or are they one form that has multiple uses?

Up to a few centuries ago, "me" could be considered a standard pronunciation of "my" when the word was not emphasized (John Walker's Critical Pronouncing Dictionary, 1791), but it eventually came to be seen as dialectal for some reason.

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